Sunday, April 22, 2007


Black Diamond Heavies

Every Damn Time


by Mark Deming
As role models for young musicians go, Tom Waits is a pretty good man to follow, but John Wesley Myers' clear admiration of the guy gets to be a bit much on Every Damn Time, the debut album from his band, the Black Diamond Heavies. Here Myers sounds like he spent the better part of a year locked up in a closet with a copy of Small Change, mastering every nuance of Waits' raspy croak, and though Myers conjures up no small amount of soul along the way, the similarity in their vocal styles (which doesn't sound spontaneous or coincidental) gets to be a bit much over the course of 40 minutes. Which is a shame, because otherwise this is a pretty impressive introduction — with just Myers on keyboards and vocals and Van Campbell behind the drums, the Black Diamond Heavies generate a mighty wall of sound and the duo cuts a hard, bluesy groove on songs like "Fever in My Blood" and "Leave It in the Road." Myers' electric piano work is especially impressive on "Poor Brown Sugar" and "Signs," and the anti-cocaine salvo "White Bitch" is a more effective anti-drug message than the "Just Say No" crowd has ever offered. Someone get John Wesley Myers a vocal coach and some less obvious influences and the Black Diamond Heavies ought to deliver a killer second album; even with its flaws, Every Damn Time is an impressive set of messed-up 21st century blues.

1 Fever in My Blood
2 All to Hell
3 Leave It in the Road
4 Let Me Coco
5 Poor Brown Sugar
6 Stitched in Sin
7 White Bitch
8 Signs
9 Might Be Right
10 Guess You Gone and Fucked it All Up